Mainstream media have reported on the case of a pharmacist who had a relationship with a “vulnerable” patient and continued to dispense medicines to her
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard that the pharmacist, from a rural town in the state, had been dispensing medicines to a patient which would have made him realise that she was in a vulnerable state.
However he chose to pursue a relationship with her, after which he continued to dispense medicines to her.
Court reporters noted that he “failed to appreciate the patient remained vulnerable”.
He also failed to take into account the power imbalance, they wrote.
The pharmacist had been practising for 45 years, including locally, and had sold his pharmacy after the matter came to light.
His registration had been suspended for 20 days in 2019, and he had not practised the profession since May 2020.
Speaking on behalf of the Pharmacy Board, Andrew Imrie noted “boundary breaches” between the pharmacist, his patient and another woman.
“There was concurrent professional and personal relationships in both cases,” he told the Tribunal.
The pharmacist accepted that he had used his position as a pharmacist to begin and to pursue the relationships, he said.
While there was no evidence that the women’s medical care had been impacted in any way, Mr Imrie told the Tribunal that, “It’s important to emphasise that the issue in cases as such as this is the potential for harm rather than harm that is suffered.”
His legal representative told the Tribunal that the pharmacist now hoped to move to Melbourne and work as a pharmacist again.
He noted the pharmacist’s previous good record and “excellent” references and said that there was “no meaningful risk of repetition of the conduct”.
The pharmacist himself told the Tribunal that he agreed that within a therapeutic relationship, there was no room for a romantic relationship.
“I am deeply apologetic to those at the centre of my failures for comprising, severely challenging and undermining the trust in me as a healthcare professional,” he said.
He apologised to the local community for the breach of trust and also to the pharmacy profession.
The Tribunal agreed that the pharmacist’s behaviour constituted professional misconduct.
The pharmacist was reprimanded and a mentoring condition imposed on his registration to practise pharmacy.